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Migrant ship captain: Salvini is a 'racist'

Nik Martin with dpa
July 6, 2019

Carole Rackete says she is concerned about the rhetoric used by Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini over the migrant rescue crisis. The German captain was arrested after forcing her ship into an Italian port.

Carola Rackete
Image: Reuters/G. Mangiapane

Days after being released from house arrest, German migrant rescue ship captain Carola Rackete on Saturday called Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini a "racist" and a "dangerous man."

In an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica, Rackete continued her feud with the far-right politician who labeled her a "rich and spoilt German communist" after she ignored orders not to enter the country's Lampedusa port on June 29 on a ship carrying 40 rescued migrants.

Read more: UN: On average, one migrant child has died per day since 2014

"I'm worried by the tone Matteo Salvini uses; by the way he expresses his ideas that breach human rights. He is dangerous, but all of the radical and nationalist right [wing] is like that, from the English UKIP to the German AfD," the 31-year-old told the paper.

Would do it again

Rackete, who could still be charged with breaching Italian immigration laws said she "would certainly do the same again" in reference to her decision to defy the ban on migrant ships docking at Italian ports.

Read more: Migrant rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3: What you need to know

She admitted, however, to an "error of judgment" in colliding with an Italian customs police boat while docking at Lampedusa, and blamed it on exhaustion. The police unit was trying to obstruct her maneuver.

Asked whether she would invite Salvini onto the Sea-Watch 3 ship, the captain replied it would not be possible for the leader of Italy's far-right ruling League party because Sea-Watch has "a very strict rule: no racists on board."

Read more: Italy's Salvini slams Sea-Watch incident as 'an act of war'

Migrants sat on rescue ship
An Italian humanitarian group has warned that the 54 migrants it rescued are getting sickImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/O. Calvo

New Italy-Malta deal

Meanwhile, Malta and Italy reportedly reached an agreement on Friday to begin to tackle the latest standoff between Salvini and charity rescue ships in the Mediterranean Sea.

The two countries are said to have agreed to each take refugees from a sailboat belonging to Italian NGO Mediterranea that rescued 54 people at sea.

A second ship operated by German aid organization Sea-Eye was headed to Lampedusa with 65 rescued migrants on board in apparent defiance of the Italian government's disembarkation ban.

Salvini ruled out the possibility that the migrants on board the Alan Kurdi would arrive in Italy.

"The German NGO can choose between Tunisia and Germany," he said.

Rescue group undeterred

In response, the organization said on Twitter: "We are not intimidated ... but will instead head towards the nearest port of safety."

Sea-Eye said the migrants had been found on a rubber dinghy in international waters off the Libyan coast and that it had notified the relevant authorities in the North African country, as well as Malta, Italy and Germany.

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